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  • People speak differently when I pull out the voice recorder. Expressions become formal and smirks become common place. I stopped using my recorder during my casual house visits and village interviews. My collaborators and friends were more comfortable with hand notes and spontaneous questions... and so was I. You never know who is listening. Everything was real. We sat on the floor and passed tobacco to one another until the cocks were literally crowing.

    Government workers were happy when they caught a glimpse of my typed questionnaire. I always provided them with my official documents. For once in my life I was a legitimate professional conducting a meaningful study. They insist on the voice recorder and they always act the part. Strong voices. Political reenactments. Standard results. Everything we want to hear in an exaggerated performance. I'm listening to one right now and I hate it.

    There is a strange schism being generated amongst cowbird authors that I can only attribute to the oral and written divide.

    Voices evoke a specific type of ownership, emotion, and response while written words rely on a particular and unforgiving desert of meaning. You must work for it. They are not the same performance and do not convey the same meaning.
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